Man United FC

Erik ten Hag has identified five Manchester United players who need to lead rebuild at Old Trafford

Following the shocking loss to Real Sociedad, the onus is now on certain squad players to rally their teammates.

Manchester United’s stunning defeat to Real Sociedad will be a difficult pill to swallow following four straight victories.

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Given the evening’s gloomy mood around Old Trafford following the news of The Queen’s death, the performance wasn’t entirely unexpected. However, the game reminded everyone that the United rebuild is still in its early stages.



Dropped duo Cristiano Ronaldo and captain Harry Maguire returned to the lineup and demonstrated why they aren’t in Erik ten Hag’s top XI. Neither player put in shifts that would have led the manager to reconsider his starting lineup.



But it is these players who must be the team’s morale rock, the characters who can pick up the dressing room after a humiliating defeat. Ten Hag is a strict disciplinarian, although he also allows veteran players some leeway.



During pre-season, Bruno Fernandes explained this. “He [Ten Hag] delivers discipline, but he also allows players the flexibility to make their own decisions,” he remarked.



“He has his own standards that we have to obey, but he also wants to give some responsibility to the older ones.” United lacked leadership last season, but Ten Hag appears anxious to bring out such attributes in the squad’s more mature members, whether they play or not.



In the goalkeeping pecking order, Tom Heaton, 36, is firmly behind David de Gea, who, together with Phil Jones, is the longest serving current team member, but his voice and experience in the dressing room will be essential.



Ten Hag might inspire senior members to assume responsibility during difficult times and lead the push for the comeback by putting the onus on certain players to lead the group.



De Gea (31) and Ronaldo (37) fit into that category, while club captain Maguire (29) and vice-captain Fernandes (28) will also mentor younger players. It’s a sensible strategy; the General sets the criteria, and the lieutenants must guarantee they are met.



Both personnel must now inspire their soldiers following Thursday’s defeat as the rebuilding process continues.

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